A tooth infection isn’t something you would want to face. Not only can it be painful, but it also risks the infection spreading to other body organs, causing serious health consequences. A tooth infection arises when an abscess in the tooth remains untreated, thus causing a bacterial infection.
Although it is prudent that you get to a dentist for a checkup and treatment whenever you have tooth pain, some people underestimate the pain, thinking that it will subside and end on its own. A tooth infection doesn’t just disappear without getting it treated.
What is a Tooth Infection?
Also referred to as a dental abscess, a tooth infection occurs when pus collects inside the teeth, the gums, or the bone holding the teeth in position. It arises from a bacterial infection. Dental abscesses can occur when a tooth is cracked, chipped, or cavitated.
Causes of Tooth Infection
Bacteria in the mouth form a sticky biofilm referred to as plaque. When you fail to keep the teeth clean, then acids are released by the bacteria and begin to damage the teeth and gums. Various things can cause tooth infection, including consuming lots of sugar that cause cavities, allowing infection to get inside a tooth.
A dry mouth is also a culprit for tooth decay and hence an abscess. Inadequate dental care contributes to plaque buildup on teeth, resulting in the likelihood of having a tooth infection.
Symptoms of a Dental Infection
Knowing the symptoms of tooth infection is crucial because it helps you seek dentist help early on. The common ones are:
- Bad breath or halitosis
- Throbbing tooth pain
- Sour taste inside the mouth
- Increased heart rate
- Pain when attempting to lie down
- Throbbing pain within neighboring areas like the ear and jaw. This arises as the pain radiates to spread to those areas from the mouth.
- Swollen neck lymph nodes
Symptoms of an Infected Tooth on Your Body and Brain
Not treated, a tooth infection is likely to enter the jaw and move via the bloodstream to invade other areas. In the body, the infection can cause sepsis, a life-threatening body response to an infection, which causes infection-fighting chemicals to get out of balance, risking causing organ damage. Symptoms of a tooth infection spreading further to the body include:
- Facial swelling
- Feeling unwell
- Increased heart rate
- Increased breathing rate
Although rarely, a tooth infection could hitch a ride to reach the brain, where it causes a brain abscess. Having pus-filled swelling within the brain is very dangerous. The symptoms you show when a tooth infection spreads to the brain are similar to those when the infection moves to other body areas. However, there are more telltale clues to signal a brain abscess or infection:
- Confusion or irritability
- A stiff neck
- Issues with nerve function, such as weakness of the muscles or paralysis
- Gray or blurry vision
You should seek medical attention immediately whenever you have signs of a brain abscess. It is a life-threatening condition. The infection can interfere with the blood and oxygen supply within the brain. It can also bring about a rupture of the abscess that, again, causes grave consequences. Brain abscesses are best handled in a hospital, not a dentist’s office, and may require surgery and antibiotics.
Treatments and Prevention Guide for Tooth Infection
Treatment of tooth abscesses involves draining the pus and receiving antibiotics to eradicate the bacteria and end the infection. Again, a dentist may perform a root canal to clear the infection from inside the tooth. If a tooth is heavily damaged and unsalvageable, extraction may be suggested. To prevent tooth infection, you need to incorporate these habits into your oral hygiene regimen:
- Brush twice a day
- Use mouthwash
- Floss once a day
- Minimize sugar intake
- Replace your toothbrush after every three months
- See a dentist twice a year for cleanings and exams
Contact Your Dentist
Do you notice symptoms suggesting a tooth abscess? Take your time seeing a dentist. Contact an emergency dentist near you or Premium Dental if you are residing near Irvine to get treatment immediately.